AskDefine | Define venison

Dictionary Definition

venison n : meat from a deer used as food

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the meat of a deer. Carnal term (sarconym) for deer.


the meat of a deer

Extensive Definition

Venison is the culinary name for meat from the family Cervidae. Deer meat, whether hunted or farmed, is termed venison.


The etymology of the word derives from the Latin Vēnor (-to hunt or pursue). This term entered English via Norman in the 11th century following the Norman invasion of England, and the establishing of Royal Forests


Venison can describe meat of any animal killed by hunting. It was originally applied to any animal from the families Cervidae (deer), Leporidae (hares), and Suidae (wild pigs), and certain species of the genus Capra (goats and antelopes), such as elk, red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, moose, caribou, pronghorn, brown hare, arctic hare, blue hare, wild boar, and ibex, but its usage is now almost entirely restricted to the flesh of various species of deer.


Venison may be eaten as steaks, roasts, sausages and ground meat. It has a flavor similar to beef, but is much leaner and the fibers of the meat are short and tender. Organ meats are sometimes eaten, but would not be called venison; rather, they are called humble, as in the phrase "humble pie." Venison is lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than most cuts of beef, pork, or lamb. According to the USDA Nutrient Database (2007), cooked lean venison contains approximately 150 calories per 100g/3.5oz serving, and is a useful source of the following micronutrients: niacin, potassium, phosphorus, iron, selenium and zinc.
Venison has enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years, owing to the meat's lower fat content. Also, venison can often be obtained at lesser cost than beef by hunting (in some areas a doe license can cost as little as a few dollars), many families use it as a one to one substitute for beef especially in the US mid-south, Midwest, Mississippi Valley and Appalachia. In many areas this increased demand has led to a rise in the number of deer farms. What was once considered a meat for unsophisticated rural dwellers has become as exotic as ostrich meat to urbanites. Venison jerky can be purchased in such grocery stores, ordered online, and is served on some airlines. Venison burgers are typically so lean as to require the addition of fat in the form of bacon, olive oil or cheese, or blending with beef, to achieve parity with hamburger cooking time, texture, and taste. Some deer breeders have expressed an interest in breeding for a fatter animal that displays more marbling in the meat.
Since it is unknown whether chronic wasting disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy among deer (similar to mad cow disease), can pass from deer to humans through the consumption of venison, there have been some fears of contamination of the food supply Recently, several known cases of the disease have occurred in deer farms throughout the United States and European farms in Scandinavia may also have had several cases. New Zealand is the main source of farm raised venison and is recognised as a country free from CWD.
Farmers now have had tests developed especially for the particular species they raise to obtain better results than those used on cattle.
Venison can in principle be Kosher as the animal meets the requirements laid down for Jewish people, and indeed is available in places such as Israel and New York. However, kosher venison isn't available in the UK for an interesting reason. According to British law, deer must be killed in the open field and not brought to an abattoir (U.S. usage: Slaughterhouse). However, the kosher rules require that an animal is killed with a single cut to the neck, and must be in perfect health before that, precluding them being shot in the field. In the early 20th century, there would be a once-a-year supply of kosher venison, when a group of Shochets would go running around the Rothschild's ranch, catch a few deer, and slaughter them in the appropriate manner there and then. However, this has not been done for many years.


venison in Czech: Zvěřina (maso)
venison in German: Wildbret
venison in Japanese: 鹿肉
venison in Polish: Dziczyzna
venison in Russian: Оленина

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aspic, barbecue, boiled meat, bouilli, civet, flesh, forcemeat, game, hachis, hash, jerky, joint, jugged hare, meat, menue viande, mince, pemmican, pot roast, roast, sausage meat, scrapple, viande
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